Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Stasher goes for the minature

Small house and garden?
Go for the minature!

At the May meeting of the Kenilworth & District Horticultural Society, Norma Wheeler gave an excellent talk on Pelagoniums. I came back with these Petite Specimens.
I got these before going to Wales, and what a coincidence: in a corner of some tea rooms there was a stash of books, to read, borrow, or take away, and I came home with a very informative booklet from the RHS on the cultivations of Pelagoniums

Visit to Wisley

If you belong to one or more of the many social clubs in Kenilworth you are sure to go on one or more of the organised trips. Not long after settling here I joined the Kenilworth & District Horticultural Society and as well as the monthly meeting with guest speakers, there are regular outings. As the clubs aim to keep down costs, we often get invited to join other clubs outings and visa verse. This month we set off for a visit of Wisley, departing from the Clock 9:30 on a Sunday morning. As the Society is affiliated to the RHS and because they had a good number on the coach the trip was a bargain at £13.

The weather was fairly kind to us given that the forecast was not promising. As we piled out of the coach, I followed my planned tour, accompanied by my friend Jean. The rockery was particularly good, and we made our way up to the Alpine House and eventually to the new glass house.

I had not been to Wisley for a few years and was keen to see this new addition. I seemed to remember that as benefactors our names had been etched. When I was still working, I gave a pretty generous donation to the construction funds and I had expected to find a very small area somewhere on a panel of the glasshouse with our names, and was really impressed by the way the glass panels were set into the ground either side of the path leading to the Glass House with the names very easy to read. I took a couple of pictures to show Mr S when I got back. It would have been nice to have had our Surname on the same line though.

I could have spent all day in the Glass House. Jean went off to view other parts of the garden, whilst I went round a second time. I was impressed by the collection of leaf Begonias, finding so many which my parents grew in Mauritius. One with a curly whirly leaf caught my eye, it certainly has the Wow factor given its texture and colours.

As I looked up round one corner, I had the sixth sense when I looked up that I was back there, it was not until I read one of the labels that I realised that I was looking at a tree which is indigenous to the Islands in that area of the Indian Ocean.

One section of the glass house is devoted to cacti and succulents and I was fascinated by the variety on show. They were well set out and clearly marked. This goes for all the garden, and I made notes regarding names as I have several in the garden know by such names as snippet from such and suches garden. It is quite nice to have plants which remind me of friends and places from long ago, and I do make sure that I take cuttings from these when I move home. One which I have now been growing very successfully on a windowcill, having acquired it as a very small plant about 5 years ago at the Wroughton Gardening Club, now has a name: Gasteria carinata. My plant is as good as this one, and has just thrown up two flower spikes. It is ready to divide up now, and I shall repot into clay pots.

In the shop I found a nice guide to the family, spot the mistake regarding watering!

For people who love the colour purple this is the begonia for you....wonderful!

Monday, 25 May 2009

More Aberystwyth delights

We took the Electric Cliff Railway up Constitutional Hill. We had seen a Victorian photograph of the holidaymakers on the beach who no doubt took walks up the hill and looked through the Camera Obscura. The picture wasn't too clear as it was not too bright outside, however I thought the light somewhat subdued the very bright colours many of the building were painted in, I call it the coloured sepia effect. The town stretches from the foot of the hill, towards the Castle, and beyond. The town is compact, and there are some attractive period houses and many churches and chapels.

Except for the lunch at the National Library, our food experiences were rather poor, until we came across the Treehouse Organic Foodshop and Restaurant. Seating is on the first and second floors, with lovely views from the windows. I had a delicious saffron rissotto with roast fennel, red peppers, olive and goatcheese, and was amazed that this Spanish Dish was cooked by a German Chef in a Welsh Town!

A real must is the museum. We could have gone back again. Part of its charm is that it is in a Restored Edwardian Theatre. There were fine examples of Welsh Furniture, and other crafts. The whole interior of a one room croft had been painstakingly put together. I was touched by the fine love spoons which the helpful and knowledgeable receptionist explained were the equivalent of engagement rings.

I checked out the local yarn shop, hoping to find some local wool. Sadly they did not have any, but I came away with a pattern for a bunny with a jumper. They had the pattern in the window, which they sell to raise funds for a local charity.

Aberystwyth Delights

When we're on holiday we like to have a range of things to do. Usually we like a good museum or stately home, as well as outdoor attractions. Based on Aberystwyth we really enjoyed some of what they had to offer.

The trip up the Rheidol Valley on the oil fired steam train had wonderful views, and we chose a good day for the ride.

We had seen a fine public building perched up above the town, it was the National Library of Wales. We spent a full and excellent morning looking around the public galleries. For anyone interested in the Welsh culture it would have been overwhelming. For our part, we became immersed in the art exhibitions, photographs and ancient books.

I was amazed by the wonderful chairs which are awarded to the winners of Eisteddfords. The chairs were more like thrones, with carvings so exquisite. I would like to learn more about this tradition, and whether people got to keep their chairs, who sponsored and paid for the chairs etc. The building itself completed in 1955, with its fine interior, is well worth looking at. We had lunch in the restaurant, then walked up to the Arts Centre at Aberystwyth University.

After looking at the ceramics exhibition, we checked out what was on and booked to see 'She Stoops to Conquer' by Oliver Goldsmith. Mappa Mundi are to be congratulated, there was never a dull moment, and the cast were word perfect. Timing, costume and humour combined to create an excellent evening's entertainment.

Week in Wales

It seems ages since our last holiday, and fancying a week somewhere near the sea, using the Internet we ended with a superb bungalow on the Welsh Coast.

It was up on the cliff looking over Borth Beach, and through a path across one garden, one came to the coastal path. We walked south past the Monument, and came down to this lovely cove. As we started downwards I was stopped in my tracts by a delicious warm smell reminiscent of pineapple coconut cakes in Mauritius, and was totally surprised to find the source. No wonder the bees and insects are attracted to the billowing yellow mounds of Gorse. Coming up from the beach, I was enchanted by the way the sea pink or thrifts festooned the cliff edges.

Borth beach with its long line of sea side houses, stretches to an area of sand dunes. We parked up on the shore of the estuary, looking over towards Aberdyfi, and I was amused by the notice which warned that the parking disappears at high tide. The view of the mountains beyond was spectacular.

The beach beyond the dunes is delightful, and I can just imagine the crowds in the Summer. We sat in the sun, and felt the gentle breeze and it was peaceful and good.

The countryside was beautiful, with the hills blanketed with oak woodland, leaves just unfurling, and from a distance yellow with the flowers. Bluebells, primroses and violets, gorse and sea thrift all jostling up through the lush grass.

Jeweled Steps

Here are the new socks modelled by Mr S. I used Cat Bordhi's Master Sock Numbers to size 'Jeweled Steps' for Mr S's size 11, with large calves. I slightly adapted the leg park, increasing and thus moving the Jewel like lozenges up the side of the socks. The Whirlpool toe is very comfortable.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

More Wild Flowers near Kenilworth

In a secret location only a couple of miles from home, we have found a small parcel of woodland which comes up trumps each time we visit. Apart from the noise from the dual carriage way, it is one of the best places to be.

Yesterday after tea and coffee cake, we set forth, and expecting to see bluebells we were doubly amazed by the wonderful carpet of bluebells and pink purslane. The purslane is in two very large areas amongst bluebells, though there are further areas of bluebells where the purslane is absent. During the walk it was bluebells and 'pink flowers', and once home, I went through my wild flower books to find the name. The flower is not indigenous, but was brought over from North America.

The flowers are small and pale pink. I don't remember seeing any hint of these plants when we last visited a few weeks ago.

For the first time amongst blue bells I found quite a few white bells. I had not seen this in the blue bell woods in Wiltshire, though in the Snakes Head Fritillary fields in Cricklade there are white blooms among the purple fritillaries.

The white bluebells are still quite small. I wonder whether they are a true English Bluebell or have hybridised.